DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

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DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby Kintyre Forum News » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:26 pm

Interesting to find this article with the boat visible on Westport Beach just now following the high tides and storms. Think the last time it was visible was 8 years ago. Sad story.

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin ... &id=I04961

DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

From the Campbeltown Courier of July 15th 1899.

One of the most calamitous boating disasters that has occurred in the district for more than a decade happened at Westport on Monday evening when five lives were lost. A party consisting of Matthew Gillies', farmer (46) Drumalea,
his son Archibald (11), two men employed on the farm, Hugh McCallum (25)Witchburn, Donald McCallum (19) Millknowe and John Mitchell (56) gamekeeper at Tangy and James Armour (15,) son of Robert Armour, Longrow, left the farm for a
night's fishing in a four-oared boat which Mr. Gillies had only purchased last week. The sea was calm and there was no cause for alarm. The party had been fishing at a point between Westport and Tangytavil, and being very successful delayed their return for an hour after their usual time. When returning after 10 o'clock they found it impossible to reach land by way of their usual port below Drumalea by reason of the heavy ground swell which had arisen in the interval. Proceeding southward a little they attempted to enter the small creek near Westport cottage when a heavy sea swept over the stern and swamped the boat. All occupants were thrown into the water and Matthew Gillies, his son, Archibald, John Mitchell, Hugh and Donald McCallum all were drowned. The boy Armour had a miraculous escape. When in the water something caught him by the feet, but he shook himself clear and struck out for the shore, a distance of about 50 feet. His brother, William, who happened to be cycling along the road at the time assisted him to Westport Cottage where he was kindly treated by Mrs. Clementson
and where he soon revived. William hurried to Ballevain Farm to break the sad news to the folk there. Together they searched the beach for bodies without any success. Word was conveyed to Campbeltown and soon friends and medical men were in attendance. The boat was washed ashore badly damaged. Mr. Alex Gilchrist found Matthew Gillies' body at 4 o'clock next morning and although other two bodies were seen in the water it was impossible to reach them. A boat lent by Mr. Ollar equipped with trawling apparatus was despatched from Campbeltown, but could not be launched with safety. On Sunday afternoon James Smith with a rope tied round him to prevent him being carried away, succeeded in bringing John Mitchell's body ashore. Donald McCallum's body was found next morning at 3 o'clock. All along the coast a sharp lookout was kept. Mrs. Thompson's boat came down from Muasdale to search for missing bodies but without success. When the sad news reached Campbeltown it created a profound sensation. The entire community was appalled by the terrible nature of the occurrence and deepest sympathy was expressed to all bereaved and sorrowing relatives. Matthew is survived by a widow and five daughters, while John Mitchell also leaves a widow and a large family, 4 sons and 4 daughters mostly grown up. No one was more highly respected or better known in Kintyre than Mr. Gillies whose genial temperament and cheerful disposition made friends very easily with everyone whom he made contact with. Only last year did he lease Drumalea and take up farming on his own. Previous he had been Manager on Mr. J.M. Hall's estate of Killean & Tangy. His remains were interned at Kilkerran on Thursday and were followed to the grave by a large company of mourners, there being over 6o machines*. Donald McCallum was interned in KilKenzie the same day, the mourners joining there on their return from Kilkerran.

INTERVIEW WITH JAMES ARMOUR, SURVIVOR.

We left Drumalea shore about 7 o'clock on Monday night. The weather was calm and we enjoyed the row to the fishing ground. After a good night's fishing we left Tangytavil for home about 9.30. The sea by this time had got rougher with
the rising wind and breakers were frequent. All went well till we reached our home port, but looking to the weather and knowing the dangers of landing we deemed it prudent to pull to the next creek as it was an easier approach and the water would be smoother there. The waves were breaking heavily there also and we waited outside for a time watching for a favourable opportunity to enter the port. This seemed to come and we headed in. Suddenly several strong waves struck
the boat, followed by a tremendous breaker which came sweeping over the stern and filled her. The boat heeled over and in a moment we found ourselves struggling in the boiling sea. When I realised she was going I jumped and struck out for the shore. Everything happened so suddenly no one had time to utter a word and after being pitched into the water I never heard a single cry. I swam for the side of the creek and could not land on the rugged rocks, but found an oar which helped me to gain the shore where my brother William helped me ashore. We would just be about 30 yards off shore when we were swamped. After being dried out at Westport Cottage I had no ill effects.

* Machine is the local name for a one-horse gig or wagonette. One of Mr. Gillies daughters, Miss Joey Gillies afterwards Mrs. McNair, was a teacher in the Grammar School, and well-known to many of us who read this article. This account of the accident was given to the editor by John Smith, the present farmer in Drumalea.
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby RDS » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:14 pm

Having seen the remains of this boat today I would think it is unlikely to be the vessel that was involved in the Drumlea tragedy as it is of a very heavy construction and much larger than anything that could be launched from the beach . A few years ago I talked to local farmers about it and they said their fathers told of it being a total disaster at the time, one man said his father talked about the widow and daughters trying to milk the cows and not really knowing what to do as the men had always done it but were lost. the remains on the beach are well over 2o feet long and must be nearly 10ft wide .
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby Martin » Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Is that the boat that's just to the left when going onto the beach from the car park ?
Ouch !
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby RDS » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:19 pm

Aye its about 400m along the beach,just before the corner.
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby Martin » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:30 pm

Thanks.
Ouch !
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby gizmo » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:21 pm

I remember seeing that wreck donkeys years ago. I hadn't realised it was still there, just covered with sand.
From what I can remember it was rusty steel but I would have thought far too big to be oared, and definately not by 4 men and 2 boys. Can anyone confirm if it is the boat concerned in the story or if not how it came to be there.
If anyone is passing with a camera phone would it be possible to post a picture of the boat.
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby jdcarra » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:11 pm

gizmo wrote:I remember seeing that wreck donkeys years ago. I hadn't realised it was still there, just covered with sand.
From what I can remember it was rusty steel but I would have thought far too big to be oared, and definately not by 4 men and 2 boys. Can anyone confirm if it is the boat concerned in the story or if not how it came to be there.
If anyone is passing with a camera phone would it be possible to post a picture of the boat.


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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby gizmo » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:47 pm

Thanks JDCarra, good photos but not the wreck I was thinking about. I would have posted the photo on here but don't know if that is allowed.. That boat seems far too big as well.
Just as a matter of interest, can anyone else remember the wreck I am thinking about. I am sure it was at Westport near the opening to the big dune, it was a steel hull at right angles to the water. I remember it from when I was wee, good God, it might have been 40 years ago.. Ah well, over to you Bill, Emdee or WC1.. :D
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby jdcarra » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:10 pm

gizmo wrote:Thanks JDCarra, good photos but not the wreck I was thinking about. I would have posted the photo on here but don't know if that is allowed.. That boat seems far too big as well.
Just as a matter of interest, can anyone else remember the wreck I am thinking about. I am sure it was at Westport near the opening to the big dune, it was a steel hull at right angles to the water. I remember it from when I was wee, good God, it might have been 40 years ago.. Ah well, over to you Bill, Emdee or WC1.. :D


The wreck that is showing now may have been a old sailing skiff.

Yes, I also remember the same wreck you mention and think it was a ships lifeboat.

Just remembered a post about it years ago.....click viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2790
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby bill » Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:00 am

gizmo wrote: it was a steel hull at right angles to the water. I remember it from when I was wee, good God, it might have been 40 years ago.. Ah well, over to you Bill, Emdee or WC1.. :D


Yes you are correct Gizmo. I remember it well, just as you described. The only difference being that it is nearer to 55 years ago that I recall seeing it for the first time.
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby gizmo » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:55 am

Should the truth be told Bill it was v.nearly 50 years ago I saw it but I didn't want to admit it to myself. :cry:
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby Kintyre Forum News » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:05 pm

Your correct the boat now appearing is not the one involved in the terrible tradegy.

An old friend today suggested it is a lifeboat from a large ship - possibly torpedoed off Westport? Anyone know any more?
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby MPR » Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:14 pm

I remember that steel hulled boat at Westport, far up the beach just past the big dune, used to play in it, cant for the life of me remember where it came from, used to know.... played there about 50 years ago also. Wish I had written all this down b4 the brain went
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Re: DISTRESSING BOATING ACCIDENT AT WESTPORT FIVE LIVES LOST

Postby skrik » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:56 pm

Just after 12 noon on Tuesday 21st January 1941, a German "Condor" aircraft from Bordeaux spotted the rescue tug "Englishman" (Hull) off Bellochantuy and dropped a SC 250 bomb straight down her funnel, sinking her with the loss of all crew.

On 16th January 1945 a German U-Boat (U-482) was detected off Machrihanish Bay and was depth-charged. The wreck lies under 200 ft of water along with that of the tug "Englishman".

Don't know whether your lifeboat has anything to do with these incidents .
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